Fairclough heads to state senate
Unlike other victorious politicians Tuesday night, Anna Fairclough didn’t enter Election Central at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage trailing a crowd of sign-waving supporters.
“Jumping up and down didn’t seem appropriate,” said Fairclough, who defeated incumbent Sen. Bettye Davis in the race for Senate Seat M.
Although the former Eagle River state representative said she was thrilled to be moving from the house to the senate, her celebration was tempered by her respect for the longest-serving female in the Alaska Legislature.
“She has done so much,” Fairclough said. “We wanted to make sure she was treated with respect.”
Davis said she was proud of her time in the Legislature, and promised she will continue to fight for her neighbors when she returns to the private sector.
“There’s a lot of work out there to do,” she said. “You’ll hear from me again.”
Fairclough’s big win – she earned roughly 59 percent of the vote in the combined Eagle River/East Anchorage district – could help tip the balance of the Senate in the favor of Republicans. But while the race was seen as a key for Alaska Republicans to seize a majority in that body, Fairclough said she has no plans to play party politics in Juneau. Instead, she said she hopes all legislators – Democrats and Republicans – can work together on contentious issues like oil taxation.
“It’s about pulling people together,” Fairclough said.
Rep. Dan Saddler, who ran unopposed Tuesday and served with Fairclough in the House, said she’ll make an excellent addition to the senate.
“She’s intelligent, hard working and reasonable,” Saddler said. “I think she will improve the tenor in the Senate.”
In the area’s other Senate race, incumbent Eagle River Republican Fred Dyson returned to Juneau by defeating Democratic challenger Martin Lindeke. Dyson garnered more than three-quarters of the vote to earn another term.
In House Districts 11 and 12, local incumbent representatives won uncontested victories. Saddler, of Eagle River, won a second term by taking the District 11 race, while Chugiak’s Bill Stoltze was re-elected in District 12.
In the House District 32 race (Eagle River Valley), Republican nominee Lora Reinbold easily outdistanced Democrat Roberta Goughnour to win her first seat in the house.
Reinbold said “staying positive” was key to victory.
“We felt like we had the right message for Eagle River,” said Reinbold, who earned 72 percent of the vote.
Reinbold said her first order of business will be working to “make Alaska more competitive,” by tweaking the state’s oil and gas tax structure.
“Everyone wins when we have a healthy economy,” Reinbold said.
Saddler – who recently completed his first term in Juneau – said Reinbold will have her work cut out for her as a freshman legislator.
“She’s a new player, but she’s got a tremendous amount of energy,” Saddler said.
Saddler said he hopes Reinbold can work closely with her fellow Chugiak/Eagle River legislators to ensure the area’s delegation stays on the same page.
“It’s not a solo sport,” Saddler said.
At the Eagle River Lions Club polling place in Eagle River, precinct chair John Dahlen said turnout was steady, with a line of people waiting outside when the doors opened at 7 a.m.
“We were slammed this morning,” Dahlen said.
Despite a persistent stream of voters, Eagle River’s Leroy Branch said things moved smoothly.
“The workers in there really know what they’re doing and they’re very helpful,” Branch said.
Dahlen said election workers pride themselves on making sure every voter is treated fairly and equally. He pointed to special voting machines designed to help those with physical handicaps negotiate the voting process.
“Everyone gets to vote,” he said.
Cynthia and John Jeuttner, of Eagle River, brought their 3-year-old son, Gabriel, to the polls to show the youngster the importance of voting.
“Every election we’re here,” Cynthia Jeuttner said.
In addition to doing their civic duty, the Jeuttners said they wanted to get out to support Fairclough, who used to represent them in the state house.
“We’re huge fans,” Mrs. Jeuttner said of the soon-to-be senator.
In the big national race of the day, President Barack Obama won four more years in office despite losing Alaska’s three electoral votes to republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Eagle River voter Matt Wasdyke said he voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson. Wasdyke said he’s not necessarily a Johnson fan — he just wants to see more alternatives to the current two-party system.
“We need to have a multi party system instead of a single party system where they just wear different colored ties,” Wasdyke said.
Not everyone was so frustrated with the political process Tuesday night. At the Dena’ina Center, Obama supporter Sheridan Williams, of Anchorage, came decked out head-to-toe in Obama gear. Williams said the president’s victory was invigorating.
“Happy is not the word. I am spiritually intoxicated and I will feel the effects of this for the rest of my life,” Williams said.
As she spoke, a female Romney supporter interrupted.
“I guess I should go on welfare now,” the woman said.
Williams brushed off the comment. She said she raised nine children without welfare, teaching them to instead rely upon themselves.
“If you want it, you get up and you go get it,” she said.
She said the idea that Obama’s win was a victory for those who want to live off the government was false.
“It’s a total mischaracterization,” she said.
Williams said she hopes the country can come together after a divisive election season.
“She’s my sister,” Williams said. “...I’m just so satisfied that faith abounds, hope abounds and love abounds.”
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or [email protected].